Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Well, the s**t storm ended today, as everyone knew it eventually would: Today, George Radwanski issued his resignation as the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

I don't know what the majority of Canadians think about this news, but I've heard a lot of indifference from the people I've talked with. I don't claim to know all that Mr. Radwanski did for our privacy rights, but what I do know impressed me. His fights against video surveillance in Kelowna, BC and Air Canada's opt-out Aeroplan stick out in my mind as shining examples. This man did a lot of good work on behalf of Canadians, despite what the media has focused on. And what of it? A mistake in a filing and a budget that's as big as that of the other four watchdogs combined. So what, I say.

As Mr. Radwanski points out in his statement, few watchdogs have faced the challenges thrown at privacy advocates in the wake of the World Trade Centre attack. He has been out there (especially in the U.S.) making people aware of the consequences of rash policy. The U.S. may have a similar advocate in the future, thanks to Mr. Radwanski's efforts. And let's dispense with the shock surrounding how our government does business; fancy lunches, suppers, etc. are nothing new, and many more would hang by that criterion. I'll take Mr. Radwanski's "When in Rome" attitude over the idealist in the office any day. The important point is that he was getting the message out there! Privacy is a right, and it's no longer guaranteed!

Whatever his failings, the quick execution of Mr. Radwanski's character should give Canadians pause. There are plenty of hooks to dangle your conspiracy theories from, but in the end, it simply proves that no one's character is safe.

Goodbye, Mr. Radwanski. You will be missed.

John L. Jarvis is a writer working out of Ottawa. He can be reached at john_l_jarvis@hotmail.com.

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